"California" coronavirus variant identified in Erie County

Mar 27, 2021

County officials say that they've identified five specimens collected from Erie County residents have been identified as containing a more transmissable variant of the coronavirus.

The University at Buffalo conducted genetic sequencing of nearly 1,000 Covid-19 specimens collected from Erie County residents in January and found that five specimens were consistent with the so-called "California" variant, which is believed to be 20% more transmissable than the novel coronavirus strain and more resistant to treatments.

Erie County Health Commissioner Dr. Gale Burstein noted that new Covid-19 cases and hospitalizations are increasing, and suggested it was possible that the presence of variants could be contributing to that.

"We need to continue this sequencing work before drawing any firm conclusions, but it is very possible that more transmissable SARS-CoV-2 variants are preventing further decreases in our case nubers," she said.